Audio tape appears to contradict Jack Martins' stance on tax hike
Audio recordings from a recent CSEA union meeting appear to contradict Jack Martins' official position that an increase in taxes or fees is not necessary to balance the county's budget.
In an audio recording obtained by News 12, CSEA President Jerry Larrichuita is heard describing the union's decision to endorse Jack Martins in the upcoming Nassau County executive race. He was speaking to CSEA members during a membership meeting Tuesday. The local CSEA leader tells union members that during interviews with the candidates, Martins said he would sooner raise taxes than lay off county workers.
Larrichuita is heard on tape saying the following:
"You have to answer the question. Small tax increase, or layoffs? Without hesitation, Martins goes, 'Layoffs? We can't even -- we gotta rebuild this workforce. I've been around this county, I've seen all of these departments. Every department is understaffed. We can't provide the services for the residents anymore. We can never lay anybody off. So if that's my only two options, I have to raise taxes a little bit, in order to keep the budget going.'"
Larrichuita then explains how Martins' opponent, Democrat Laura Curran, answered the same question:
"She said, 'If you're giving me no options, and I have to answer the question. I'm not raising taxes.' That meant a lot to us. That meant more than just taxes. That meant to us, in her mind, there is still room, yet, for the workforce to give up."
In an interview Wednesday, Larrichuita walked back the way in which he described his interaction with Martins during the union meeting.
"He told me and my senior staff, 'I don't appreciate those kinds of questions. I have no plans to raise taxes, but I also without out a doubt have no plan on laying off anybody,'" said Larrichuita.
On the campaign trail, Martins has routinely said that hiking taxes and fees isn't necessary. He reiterated that position to News 12 Wednesday.
"We have the opportunity to balance this budget without raising a single tax or fee, without laying off a person, simply by implementing good management practices," he said.
The Nassau CSEA doesn't always issue an endorsement. In fact, it declined to do so in each of the last two county executive races. On a national level, the union typically endorses Democrats, not Republicans.
"I think it confirms the fact that my opponent is a career politician who will say one thing behind closed doors, and then go out into the public and say something completely different," said Curran.
Laricchiuta told News 12 that the hypothetical question he asked both candidates was "unfair."
He says the decision to endorse Martins was not based solely on that answer. He points to Martins' campaign pledge to lift the county out from under a state financial control board as a key factor in the endorsement.